1. WAGE PROTEST DOWNTOWN
More than 100 service workers and supporters took part in a "Fight for $15" protest in downtown New Orleans Nov. 29, marching with a brass band from Armstrong Park on North Rampart Street to Canal Street near a McDonald's between Royal and Bourbon streets. Protesters blocked car and streetcar traffic in all directions for nearly an hour and linked arms, demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage and the ability to unionize. Six people sitting at the intersection were arrested for obstructing street traffic and released with citations.
New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. recently adopted $15 minimum wage laws, and California will have a $15 minimum wage by 2019.
In New Orleans, city workers earn at least $10.10 an hour, with some city contractors earning at least $10.55 an hour. New Orleans sets a citywide minimum wage at $1 more than the federal rate. But Louisiana has no minimum wage, relying on the $7.25 federal rate. More than 64,000 people in the metro area work in food service, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with roughly 15,000 of those workers relying on tips and the base federal tipped wage of $2.13 an hour.
2. Quote of the week
"We did the last Neville Brothers last year. ... We did 40 years with the Brothers, and they were great years. I gave 300 percent every night, and now I have to give 300 percent to this. I have a long way to go and a short time to make it in — that makes it simple. I have to do some stuff before I get out of here — before the Lord comes and says, 'Aaron, bring it up, son.'" — Aaron Neville, who just turned 75, talking to Relix magazine about the possibility of a Neville Brothers reunion.
3. Trump: Price is right
President-elect Donald Trump last week named U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, as his choice to head the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Price, an ardent foe of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, is expected to lead efforts to have the ACA repealed quickly after Trump takes office. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said last week that GOP leaders would be willing to repeal the ACA even if there are no immediate plans to replace it.
On the shortlist for the HHS job, reportedly, was former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who headed Louisiana's Department of Health & Hospitals when he was 24. Could Jindal have quashed his own chances? When he was running for president against Trump, Jindal called him an "egomaniacal madman," "an unserious and unstable narcissist" and said, "Electing Donald Trump would be the second-worst thing we could do this November."
4. Richmond to
lead Congressional Black Caucus
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, was elected last week to chair the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in the upcoming 115th Congress. "As we move into a new Congress and the onset of a new Administration," Richmond said in a statement, "our Caucus will remain committed to the values that have made the CBC among the most influential institutions in the nation."
The CBC is a bipartisan group of lawmakers dedicated to the concerns of African-Americans, and currently has 45 members from across the U.S. It was founded in 1971; Richmond will be its 25th chairman.
5. Say hello to the
hotel next door
The New Orleans City Council passed a series of ordinances Dec. 1 to legalize short-term rentals on websites such as Airbnb. The new regulations include the controversial allowance of short-term rentals of entire homes (not occupied by their owners) for up to 90 days a year; residents and housing advocacy groups fear landlords will take properties off the long-term rental market for more profitable short-term renting. The new rules also ban all short-term rentals in the French Quarter.
Council members Jared Brossett and Susan Guidry were the only "no" votes. Brossett offered an amendment to limit the 90-day rule to 60 days and to require homestead exemption for those types of rentals. Without those protections, he said, he would not support the ordinance.
The city will begin staffing an enforcement wing early next year, funded by nearly $1 million in anticipated revenue from permits and fees, and it will begin collecting taxes on short-term rentals Jan. 1. The rules kick in April 1.
6. Krewe of Pandora
a no-go for 2017
The metro area's newest all-woman Mardi Gras krewe, Pandora, announced last week it would not roll at next year's Carnival and would spend a year regrouping before returning to the traditional Metairie route in 2018. Pandora first rolled on Lundi Gras 2016, and the hiatus will leave Jefferson Parish with no parade on the night before Fat Tuesday.
7. Main library to close for two weeks
The New Orleans Public Library's main branch will close Dec. 5-18 for electrical repairs, joining the Nix branch, which also is shuttered for repair. The Mid-City branch, which is moving to the Automotive Life Insurance Building at 4140 Canal St., was scheduled to hold a grand opening Dec. 5, but last week City Librarian Charles Brown emailed staff and supporters that the opening had been postponed and no new date was scheduled.
8. Baby Cakes release inaugural schedule
The Triple-A ball team for- merly known as the New Or- leans Zephyrs released its 2017 schedule last week. The first game of the season will be April 6, and the season will close on Labor Day, Sept. 4. In all, 71 games will be played at the team's home stadium on Airline Drive, which has yet to be christened with an appropriate name (the Crib, perhaps?). For all dates, visit www.cakesbaseball.com.
9. Cohen tribute to benefit Standing Rock
"Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye," a tribute to the late singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen (who died Nov. 7 at 82) will be held at Sanctuary Cultural Arts Center (2525 Burgundy St.) Dec. 6. Organizer David Symons will perform with Luke Allen, Bremner Duthie, Helen Gillet, Ingrid Lucia, MaeDea Lady LaRose, Harry Mayronne, Micah McKee, Lydia Stein and Bart Ramsey, with house band The Salt Wives. Tickets are $10-$20 on a sliding scale, and all proceeds benefit protestors near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota facing down construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given the hundreds of Native Americans and their supporters a Dec. 5 deadline to leave. Hundreds of people have been arrested, tear gassed, blasted with water hoses and shot with rubber bullets.
10. Country music Superfest moves to
Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Brooks & Dunn and Rascal Flatts will headline the 2017 Bayou Country Superfest, which moves from Baton Rouge to the Superdome Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28, 2017. The country music festival's Saturday lineup features Lambert, Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts, Brett Eldridge, Jon Pardi and Chris Lane. Sunday includes Shelton, Thomas Rhett, Hank Williams Jr., Old Dominion, Dan + Shay and Maddie & Tae. There's a free Friday night concert in Champions Square.
Festival Productions Inc., producer of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, created Bayou Country Superfest in 2010 at Baton Rouge's Tiger Stadium. The festival moves to New Orleans due to renovations at Tiger Stadium.